Jean-François Guiton, Fluchtweg, 2008
Exhibition | 12.09.2008 EXTENDED UNTIL 8.03.2009

Jean-François Guiton

Hinters Licht - Videoarbeiten 1982–2008
The Weserburg is presenting work by the Bremen-based video artist and university teacher Jean-François Guiton in a comprehensive solo exhibition. This ambitious enterprise was made possible by the Board of Trustees of the Plastics Industry, which awarded the Weserburg an art prize of €50,000. The retrospective presents a prominent artist who at the same time has rendered outstanding services to the communication of contemporary art. Following Fritz Schwegler at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and Martin Honert at the Kunsthalle Lipsiusbau, the jury, chaired by the art and literature critic Verena Auffermann, selected Jean-François Guiton for a retrospective.

Jean-François Guiton’s artistic treatment of video is refreshingly distinct from much of what media artists produce and stage. At first glance, his works, which despite consisting of only few elements are nevertheless spacious, could be referred to as minimalist or conceptual would they not always contain a narrative, literary, even sometimes mythic level, “content” that in a special way enhances and overlays the technology he uses. On the one hand, as suggestive images and sounds, these works directly affect our imagination, which is constantly inclined to form links and analogies; indeed, they affect our overall physical-spatial perception. On the other hand, the evidence and transparency of their presence in space and the clear arrangement of their technical elements make us aware of the indirectness and staged quality of the whole undertaking. Guiton’s works are narrative, literary, mythical, and self-referential. They tell us stories while at the same time giving us an account of the fact that they are being told within the framework of their being communicated by media, thus always making reference to media whose hardware is being applied in a sculptural sense and in this way can become the subject of the work.

The fact that ancient topoi, myths, archaic images, symbols, and visions of fear, desire, and death time and again emerge in his works is not evidence that he is making attempts to unearth past, long since meaningless or forgotten mysterious signs and to reactivate them in anachronistic form; rather, the contrary is the case: these signs and images also exist in the age of media. Many of them belong to a millennium-old and permanently changing tradition that endured even through to the late twentieth century. In the way Guiton presents them to us, we become aware of them in their essence as changeable, reinterpretable, and suitable for various purposes. Even in the age of media, myth functions in much the same way as “Chinese whispers”: as they are passed on, images and stories accumulate what they have picked up, change, and are sometimes hardly recognizable. Yet Guiton is not concerned with bewailing the media-related losses of cultural substance within the scope of sentimental mourning. Rather, for him it is about the confident treatment of the still available wealth of images, concepts, and their overlying meanings. However, the specific quality of the kind of art experience he aspires to cannot be replaced by discourses. Indeed, it is in a position to successfully defy being captured by language; it settles in a place where language is no longer or not yet capable of taking hold. And Jean-François Guiton is convinced that video is a suitable means or “medium” for achieving this.

The exhibition presents fifteen works by the Bremen-based artist from the period between 1982 and 2008. These include space-consuming video installations, multipart monitor works, as well as large-format video projections that invite visitors to take an eventful walk through the third floor of the Weserburg. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue. 

Arrangements can be made for guided tours in French at any time. To register and for information call 0049-(0)421-59839-28.

Exhibition trailer:

For further information about the art prize go to

Exhibition at the Institutçais de Brême

Parallel to the large-scale retrospective, a further exhibition is taking place at the Institut français de Brême. It will open one week later on September 19, 2008, at 6:00 p.m., and enhances the main exhibition at the Weserburg by several works. Besides photographs, it presents the two video installations and the latter of which makes direct reference to the institute’s exhibition space. 
Jean-François Guiton
Rythmes September 19–December 11, 2008
Exhibition opening: Friday, September 19, 2008, 6:00 p.m.
Institut français de Brême Contrescarpe 19, 28203 Bremen
Further information: 0049-(0)421-33944-0 or 

Me & Courbet, Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 1996, © Helmut Newton Estate

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